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Seeing Yourself Clearly: Growth is Optional

Recently, I was reading the book, “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson and others, and the book’s message is about how to facilitate clear communication in the most critical moments of high emotion, say, a talk with a boss about a promotion or performance issue, a disagreement with a spouse or an uncomfortable situation with a family member.

Admittedly, most of us do not stay calm under intense circumstances and we let emotion hijack rational discussion. In the past, I am definitely guilty of this, and have had 2 reactions when feathers begin to get ruffled, and those are a) become insanely sensitive and defend to the death, or b) clam up and hope it goes away. Not ironically, within the first 20 pages of the book, the authors confirmed both of these reactions to be both normal and NOT optimal for growth :) The final, third way is to learn and teach yourself to act with calm rationality, but also be open to all viewpoints and opinions, without taking things personally. Easier said than done, yes?

Well, as always, this got me to thinking about physique development and body esteem, and about how it is often VERY difficult when it comes to our bodies to think and act rationally and not clam up or defend at the slightest bit of feedback from others, or from ourselves.

Feedback from others: This is especially tough when it comes to our bodies. But we can’t have it both ways, ladies. What we do is 2 things: if we get what we perceive as negative feedback (from judges, for example), we defend. If we get positive feedback, we can’t hear it because we have already decided that we are not good enough. Hello! How about the 3rd option: acceptance. It doesn’t mean that we AGREE with others’ feedback, but if we are asking (or even if someone is freely giving), we can accept it objectively, and then make an assessment about whether we agree with it or not.

Here’s an example, you ask for feedback from the judges after a competition or from a trainer. Just because you receive feedback that you don’t agree with doesn’t mean you have to defend or rationalize. You can listen, and then make your own assessment about whether you can use the feedback or not. IT IS NOT PERSONAL. You don’t have to believe everything someone says about you, and then take it to heart and change. I had the hardest time with this for many years. If someone objected to something I was doing, I immediately defended why I was doing it, but then also tried to change to please them. Hello, what?? lol! I felt that if someone was doing something, it was because I was doing something wrong. I also felt that if someone didn’t do something, that it was because I was doing something wrong. How arrogant is that? I made everything about me. When in reality (objectively), people are just being themselves and I was taking things personally, left and right. I struggled with this for many years. Jade helped me to seeing this (even though of course I initially defended that I was NOT doing that lol) and also reading the book “The Four Agreements” helped tremendously with it. Learning not to take things personally, and not to make assumptions–two absolute keys for clearing my head and attaining emotional freedom. (If you have not read “The Four Agreements” it is mandatory reading and you could literally read it in an hour) :)

Feedback from ourselves: On the whole, we don’t see ourselves objectively. Interestingly, you are probably one of the LEAST qualified to assess yourself. Women, on the whole, default to “I’m not good/thin/pretty/smart/fun, etc enough.” At what point were we taught the automatic, knee-jerk reaction of “No, I’m not!” whenever we get a compliment?

I worked with a client a couple of years ago who wanted to lose about 30 lbs. She said, “Gee, I wish I looked now like I did when I thought I was fat 5 years ago.” This is so true, right? We are never satisfied, even at our most lean or fit. There is always something we can work on, and we hone in on the smallest weakness to the detriment of seeing the whole, awesome picture. This was a huge turning point for me in terms of realizing that there is no real objectivity when it comes to personal physique assessment. We cannot see ourselves clearly. It reminds me of the years when I was competing and in my “off-season” wanting to hide in a corner of the gym because I was not in “show shape.”  In reality (objectively), I was leaner and more fit than 99.9% of people, but because I didn’t think I was at my best, it wasn’t good enough. And that small discrepancy was all I focused on, and it hijacked my emotions and self-esteem for a long time.

The take-away is this: you will never be able to see yourself as objectively as others. But what you can begin doing is throwing yourself a bone. Realize that if you even WORKOUT regularly, you are already in the top 5% of all people in the world in terms of fitness. And if you ever pay any ATTENTION to your eating, you are probably in the top 1% of all people. That’s pretty darn good. Also, understand that it is not about achieving perfection or about the destination. It is all about the journey–learning about yourself, accepting yourself along the way, but still striving for more. You don’t need to hate your thighs to strive for more. You get to choose your mental attitude along the way. You can literally CHOOSE to be happy or disappointed. You can CHOOSE to be empowered or be a victim. And what I learned in “Crucial Conversations” is that you can, in fact, CHOOSE to learn and practice objective thinking, rational discussion, and break knee-jerk reactions. Ok, now you try! :)

Let me know how you’re doing! ox Jill

Related: 8 Ways to show yourself some love

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